Forgiveness is a big word. It’s so loaded with emotion that we can circle it and circle it but never actually start with the process of forgiveness that might set us free from a situation where we feel deeply wronged. Often we simply don’t want to forgive someone because, frankly, we don’t feel they deserve it.
Pretty much no one is going to get through this long wild ride called life without being crushingly let down at some point. Disappointed. Thoroughly screwed over through no fault of your own. Bad things happen to good people. Good people do bad things. All the time.
When we have said and done all we can, there comes a point where we may have to accept a situation we don’t like. We cannot change it through sheer force of will. Or by wishing it could be different. Or begging it to be different. It simply is what it is. We are living some reality we do not want, we don’t like it but there it is.
And that’s where forgiveness comes in. Getting clear on what forgiveness can be as a process for you can be really powerful. Forgiveness can be something we do for ourselves. Not for the other person who has hurt us. We can start by forgiving our own part in the situation. Accept we did what we thought was best and right at the time. We can draw a line and choose to love and accept ourselves despite what has happened, so we can learn and move forwards.
Forgiving the other person who has hurt you? That’s a biggie, and sometimes the transgression can seem just too big. Too unforgiveable. I get it. He or she does not deserve your forgiveness! Yet forgiveness is still useful here if we reframe it. Think about forgiveness as something you are doing for yourself, not something that lets someone else off the hook. Forgiveness can be something you do for yourself to set yourself free from the situation, not something you give to the person that hurt you. This means you can
- Forgive them even if they are not sorry.
- Forgive even though you do not condone what unfolded.
- Forgive the situation even though it is absolutely not what you want.
- Forgive to gift yourself peace, not because the other person deserves it.
- Forgive to prevent yourself from being trapped in the past.
- Forgive so the damage doesn’t continue to control your life.
- Forgive because that’s better for your soul than hate.
Forgiveness doesn’t excuse someone else’s behaviour, but it prevents it from destroying your heart. Forgiveness does not mean that other person has not behaved badly, it means you will no longer dwell on them or their choices. This allows you to bring your focus back to what you can control and effect: your own thoughts and actions. It means you can start to let go of what hurt you and create a new reality.
It’s hard but practising forgiveness is key to being able to make peace with what is reality, even though it may not be of your choice. Forgiving the situation and the various roles within it has the capacity to set us free if we are brave enough to go there.
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.